The Culture of Free: Construct explication and democratic ramifications for Readers" willingness to pay for public affairs news Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2022

start page

  • 207

end page

  • 223


  • 1


  • 23

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1464-8849

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1741-3001


  • The homogenization and commoditization of news have risen since the emergence of the Internet, but have sharply increased in recent years due to economic constraints on news organizations and journalists labor conditions. This article explores readers perceptions and attitudes toward the economic and informative value of online news in particular, and toward the Internet as a means of news dissemination in general. Drawing upon 50 in-depth interviews with respondents from Spain aged 18-65 years, we conceptualize the lack of readers inclinations to pay for digital news as a culture of free and explore its main dimensions. Specifically, the culture of free is a strong orientation to considering news as a public good that must be free of charge, rooted in customs/habits of free consumption on the Internet over decades, fueled by free competition, subtended by advertising, and a lack of interest in the news more generally. Despite the fact that the digital versions might be theoretically considered as inferior, we argue that both products (print vs online) are equally valuable (economically and informatively) and the only divergence lies in their format and thus in their price.


  • business model; culture of free; free competition; free news consumption; online news; public good